New York's unemployment rate improved last month from the historic high of 15.3 percent in April, but still remains at 14.5 percent, the state Department of Labor on Thursday announced. 

The overall private-sector job count stands at 6.6 million. 

The somewhat improved employment picture comes as regional economies began a gradual reopening in May. The national unemployment rate decreased by a comparable amount in May as well, reflecting the reopening of some businesses across the country.

Most regions of the state are now in Phase 3 of the reopening, and New York City is expected to reach the second phase on Monday. 

But the employment picture is expected to remain grim for months, if not years. The leisure and hospitality sector recorded the largest decline among industries, losing 601,300 jobs over the last 12 months. The trade, transportation and utilities sector shed 320,700 jobs.